By Denise Richardson

Staff Writer

Health care providers may advance their knowledge to fight depression in pregnant women and new mothers thanks to a grant, officials said Monday.

The Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network of South Central New York, which serves Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and four other counties, was awarded $2,250 for an educational program it plans to offer later this year, Sharon Chesna, executive director of the nonprofit group, said.

``We're really thrilled,'' Chesna said. ``We needed the funding.''

The funding is from the Women's Fund of the Community Foundation for South Central New York, according to a media release.

The project's goal is to improve identification and treatment of perinatal mood disorder and help women experiencing these potentially devastating conditions, Chesna said. The request was for $3,150, she said, and the organization will seek funding to make up the difference.

The plan is to offer four programs with a projected attendance of 120 to 140 health care professionals, Chesna said, and continuing-education credits will be available. The programs would be in Broome, Chenango, Cortland and Otsego counties.

According to a project summary, national statistics report that more than 10 percent of new mothers and an increasing percentage of pregnant women experience mild to severe depression that can lead to pre-term labor and low birth-weight in newborns. In the severest cases, a new mother kills herself or her child/children.

During 2008, two incidents within the coverage region showed the need for provider training, the summary said.

In one case, a mother who planned to drive into a river with her newborn and toddler reached out to a network employee. None of three organizations contacted had staff able to diagnose and treat the woman, who eventually was taken for care to a facility in another county.

In the second incident, a mother was untreated and killed herself.

For more information on the project, call the network office in Binghamton at 772-0517 or visit www.mothersandbabies.org.

The Women's Fund is an endowed project to improve and empower the lives of women and girls, the release said.

The fund, founded in 2002, has awarded a total of $33,400 to almost 20 nonprofit projects and is raising an additional $500,000 for its endowment by the end of 2012 to increase annual awards.

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